Four drivers were killed in Victoria, three in South Australia, and one in Tasmania, NSW and Queensland. They include two killed in a 24-hour period this week and two killed when their B-doubles collided on the Augusta Highway in SA last month.
In the last five weeks, 22 road users in total have been killed in truck crashes. In March, 27 people died in truck crashes.
“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the drivers and other road users who have lost their lives in recent weeks. While police investigations will continue into these crashes, we know that truck drivers are being pressured to work gruelling hours, to speed and to skip their mandatory rest breaks. This is what makes trucking Australia’s deadliest job yet the Federal Government refuses to acknowledge the problem and bring in the necessary regulation to deal with the crisis. Instead it tore down a road safety watchdog three years ago which was investigating risks to safety in transport and which its own report said was cutting crashes by 28%. Now truck drivers and other road users are paying for this disastrous move with their lives,” said Nick McIntosh, TWU Assistant National Secretary.
In April 2016 the Federal Government scrapped 30-day payment guarantees and minimum rates for truck drivers when it abolished the safety watchdog. It also let wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies off the hook for ensuring that their contracts allow for their goods to be delivered safely. Since the Federal Government came to power in 2013, 1,061 people have been killed in truck crashes across Australia.
Last December, the ALP national conference backed a system of Safe Rates to hold these companies to account and ensure that transport workers are safe at work.
“It is an utter disgrace that truck drivers and other road users are being slaughtered each week on the roads and this Government ignores the problem. This is a crisis and we have a plan to deal with it,” he added.